The Hollywood Bowl’s programming departments are never shy when it comes to warhorses, and when they work, the venue becomes a magical place. Lerner and Loewe’s classic “My Fair Lady” received a perfectly delightful staging Sunday, buoyed by John Lithgow’s comic timing and Melissa Errico’s rich vocals. Staged with props, furniture and a generic street scene set, John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra ensured that the accompaniment would be big and joyful, and the splendid cast responded in kind.
Subtlety is never going to work in the Bowl in any presentation, and Lithgow gave his Henry Higgins an assured larger-than-life quality, milking the comedy of the book as well as the lyrics. His antics certainly hits the upper reaches of the Bowl as laughs cascaded down time and time again. Errico drove her Eliza Doolittle with a resplendent voice. A little heavy on the vibrato when she held an extended line, but her full-bodied directness made up for any deficiency in her delivery.
The “hmmm factor” in the casting was Roger Daltrey, the lead singer of the Who, as Eliza’s father Alfred, and he displayed a dark and throaty tenor on “With a Little Bit of Luck” and “Get Me to the Church on Time.” Befitting of a rock star, he played the drunken scenes with convincing authority. Kevin Earley, playing Eliza’s suitor Freddy, turned in two bold readings of “On the Street Where You Live,” turning the ballad into a luxuriating show-stopper.
Performance began just before dusk, dimming the specificity of the lighting cues. As darkness, fell, though, show’s tenor became more focused, and Gordon Hunt’s direction made fine use of the Bowl’s enormous stage.